What is wild rice?
This is a loaded question. Simply put, wild rice is actually a species of grass.
However, that’s a straightforward statement. Wild rice, believe it or not, is far more interesting than that. It has incredible benefits for the wetlands it grows in, waterfowl, and numerous creatures, and it’s very nutritious.
Wild rice (Zizania aquatica) is a species of grass. The part that is eaten is the seed that sprouts from the plant around August to September. However, some animals eat the stalk of the plant as well.
How To Harvest Wild Rice
Traditionally the majority of wild rice grown in the states is from Minnesota. Harvesting the rice requires a license in Minnesota and is heavily regulated.
The harvesting of wild rice is done in a canoe using two sticks to knock the matured seeds into the boat. Green rice (rice that hasn’t developed) is strictly forbidden to harvest during the season.
What Is It Good For?
The benefits of wild rice can seem never-ending (which we love) but let’s break it down into three main categories; wetlands, waterfowl populations, and especially consumption.
Benefits To Wetlands
The waters the rice is grown in benefits from its ability to tie up nutrients and bind loose soil. The plant helps reduce algae and provides more transparent waters as well.
The wild rice also provides shelter and is home to many amphibians making rice paddy’s sustainable ecological habitats.
In the case of Oregon Wild Rice, we’ve noticed that not only is this a sustainable farming practice, but it’s also regenerative. We have seen the soil and the land positively impacted by the wild rice, and over five years, the earth is more nutrient-rich.
Benefits of Wild Rice to Waterfowl
Wild rice creates a source of food and shelter for many waterfowl. Migratory birds, in particular, really enjoy wild rice. It’s one of the most important food sources for migratory birds due to the late harvest time that coincides with migration time.
The nutrients provide much-needed sustenance for the long journeys they must make. Plus, the stalks and rice paddies make a great landing place with provided shelter.
Nutrient-dense and a great source of plant-based protein make wild rice a fantastic superfood. It’s also very high in antioxidants.
Wild rice is alkaline-forming, unlike the other kinds of rice, which are acid-forming. This means wild rice can help reduce inflammation.
Another health benefit is that the high magnesium level within wild rice can provide a boost of energy. This makes it great for athletes.
So What Does It Taste Like?
A well-cooked and high-quality wild rice has a distinct natural oaty essence. The flavor can vary greatly depending on how the rice is processed. Oregon Wild Rice has a natural nutty and earthy flavor (think oats, not dirt). It tastes amazing without any seasoning or sauces and is an excellent addition to almost any meal
Ready to try Oregon Wild Rice?
There’s Wild Rice In Oregon?
Yes, wild rice in Oregon.
Why? Where else would it grow better?! With the abundance of Pacific Northwest rain, we think there’s no better place for it.
The majority of wild rice in the United States is grown in Minnesota. Then there is a small fraction of rice produced in California and an even smaller amount of rice grown in Oregon.
The conditions in Oregon are perfect for growing wild rice. We don’t need irrigation; we have natural good ole Pacific Northwest rain.
When Are You Trying It!?
Wild rice is excellent for athletes, vegetarians, it’s naturally gluten-free, high in antioxidants, and goes well with almost any foods.
The list of benefits from this incredible species of grass goes on and on.
If you’re now itching to try some wild rice here are a few simple recipes to test out.
Wild Rice & Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers
All three are delicious recipes! Let us know what you think.